MartinHafer

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Reviews

The Marshal's Daughter
(1953)

I guess Hoot REALLY needed the money.
According to IMDB, Hoot Gibson was perpetually in financial straits, as he seemed to spend money as soon as he earned it. As a result, he often took on any project. "The Marshal's Daughter" is clearly 'any project', as Hoot is clearly well past his prime...looking old and puffy instead of heroic. He is, after all, in his 60s...and he clearly looks it. Sadly, he's not even the star of this film...and he's there to clearly support Laurie Anders who plays the title character. As for Anders, she's kind of cute and sings and dances (not so cute)...but she hardly has the chops to be a leading lady in this sort of picture. After all, a western is supposed to be tough...and she just comes off as cute and a bit out of her league.

The plots involves the Marshal and his daughter seeking out the murderer of an orphan's grandfather as well as a local baddie who is trying to take over....and using the 'cattleman's association' to do so.

Seeing and hearing Laurie Anders do ventriloquism in the film, in addition to all her singing and dancing, made my skin crawl. To be fair, she was NOT the first to do this...as Tex Terhune made MANY films along with his ventriloquist dummy...but that ALSO made my skin crawl. But at least in Terhune's case, he starred in films where he was just one of a trio of good guys...and the other two helped balance this. But with Anders, the film is all about her and it seems as if producer Ken Murray is trying to show off her many, many skills...even if they aren't appropriate to the film...which they weren't. So instead of a watchable B-western, it's more a talent show featuring just Anders. Tough to watch...impossible to enjoy.

A Man's Land
(1932)

Tex and Peggy....two stubborn cusses who apparently won't bend.
When the owner of a ranch dies, he surprisingly wills half of it to his daughter, Peggy and half to this foreman, Tex (Hoot Gibson). Unfortunately, each has very different ideas what they should do with the ranch....and both are incredibly stubborn. In addition, Peggy is downright dim in that she has never spent much time out west and begins making lots of assumptions without getting the facts. The worst example is the local man she trusts...he's obviously a total weasel who is trying to buy the ranch for a song. But she thinks he's swell and hates Tex....and never gives Tex a chance, as she believes everything the weasel and his men tell her.

Making Peggy this pig-headed and so easily influenced was a bit annoying. I think the notion of a liberated woman being a dummy was a popular notion back in the day...now it not only seems sexist but also shows poor writing. It's really hard to imagine a woman from out east arriving at the ranch and suddenly sizing everything up so quickly. This is a major weakness in "A Man's Land" and making Peggy less gullible and less assertive would have made for a better film. Now I am NOT saying she shouldn't be confident or competent...but a truly confident and competent woman wouldn't have been this rash. Fortunately, eventually she realizes this...but is it too late? See the film to find out for yourself.

This film is okay but no better mostly because the writing isn't great. It's not just the sexism but how gullible and silly the woman is. Plus, Hoot doesn't come off all that well either...and at times he, too, seems a bit dim. Add to that an incredibly obvious villain who no one seems to suspect!! Overall, not terrible...but not all that good.

The Fighting Parson
(1933)

A rather amoral western hero in this one!
I've seen a few of Hoot Gibson's westerns and he certainly isn't like the cowboy heroes of the day in many of them. For instance, in "The Fighting Parson", he and his friend, Arizona Joe, are low-down cowboys with a bit of a larcenous side to them. After being caught cheating at dice, Arizona has to run off to save his skin...and Steve (Gibson) is on his heels. A bit later, they come upon the clothing belonging to a traveling preacher and Steve takes it....and is soon mistaken for the preacher heading to the town of Red Dog.

When he arrives, there is a hanging about to take place....and the condemned man recognizes Steve! Not wanting to be exposed as a fraud, the Preacher insists that they spare the guy...and soon the condemned man and his gang are up to no good once again! This is a serious problem...but an even more serious one is that Steve has no idea how to behave like a man of God....and he is afraid to christen babies, marry folks and preach on Sundays! Fortunately (or perhaps not) before he has to perform any of these functions, the real Reverend Doolittle arrives in town...in his underwear! What's next? See the film...as there's much more to it than this! And, see who you should root for, considering that Steve and Arizona aren't exactly angels!

While the acting is a bit suspect from time to time (sometimes, Hoot himself seems to have trouble remembering his lines), this is a rather enjoyable film...mostly because it's so very different. It's sort of a western-comedy and it's far from the sort of thing you'd usually see from cowboy heroes, that's for sure!

The Haunting of La Llorona
(2019)

What's to like about this film? Ummmm....I can't think of anything, actually.
"The Haunting of La Llorona" is an example of a 'mockbuster'. If you don't know what a mockbuster is, it's a film with a title almost exactly like a big film that is expected to debut soon. In other words, a small-time film company with very tiny budgets hear about a Disney or Fox film that is coming out in a year or so. And, they quickly create a movie with nearly the same title and posters that look like the big-name film in an attempt to fool suckers into believing their pathetic film is, in fact, the big budgeted Hollywood film. They do this by making and releasing their films QUICKLY....usually just before the A-level film debuts. It's dishonest and essentially hopes to piggyback on the money the big studio spends on publicity. And, most every one of these mockbusters I've seen have been simply god-awful.

"The Haunting of La Llorona" is a film hoping to capitalize on the upcoming picture, "The Curse of La Llorona". In fact, the films are so close I noticed that one review was posted on the wrong IMDB page. I don't blame the reviewer...such a mix-up isn't surprising. After all, the folks who made "The Haunting of La Llorona" were hoping such a mix-up would occur!

The story is supposed to be based on the Mexican folk tale of La Llorona. The story is similar to the Greek story of Medea...very similar. When a woman learns that her husband has been cheating on her, she kills her children and then herself. She's called 'La Llorona' because this woman is cursed to wander the earth....wailing (hence the word 'Llorona'). But in the film, she doesn't cry but instead appears and disappears just to kill people...laughing all the while. Apparently, the writer of the story hadn't bothered to learn about the folk tale...which is both sloppy and disrespectful.

So what does the film have to offer? In other words, is there anything good about this mockbuster? No. Nope. Nada. The acting is amateurish, the camera work very choppy and sloppy, the music is VERY bad (loud, inappropriate and with some abrupt edits), and the script, as I mentioned above, isn't the story of La Llorona at all. The direction is bad....such as when folks reach into the refrigerator and bull out already opened cans of beer! Who keeps can of opened beer in the fridge...multiple cans?! But worst of all is the make-up...which is one of the most important parts of a film because it's a horror movie about ghosts. It just doesn't look professionally done and it appears as if the actors had to apply it themselves...in the dark. A very bad film...even by mockbuster standards!

If you want to watch it, which I'd only recommend you do if you want a good laugh, it's available on Amazon Prime...which I watched on my Roku.

In Old Mexico
(1938)

Zorro is out to kill Hoppy!
When the episode begins, Hopalong arrives in Mexico at the home of Colonel Gonzalez, as he received a note from Gonzalez saying he wanted to meet him there. However, the note is fake...and at the same time, Gonzalez received word that Hoppy wanted to meet him...in the desert! However, they both are being manipulated by Zorro, 'the Fox', a bandit that Gonzalez and Cassidy sent to prison some time ago. But Zorro has escaped and now wants to kill both these men...and he soon dispatches Gonzalez. What no one realizes is that Zorro's evil sister is staying with the Gonzalez family....and she is trying to seduce Cassidy in order to maneuver him into harm's way.

This is a good but not great movie. Much of it is because both Cassidy's buddy, Lucky AND the Colonel's sister, Anita, are incredibly stupid characters...too stupid. As a result, Hoppy not only has to solve the crime but keep these two from getting killed in the process! Still, enjoyable and an amiable time passer.

Undercover Man
(1942)

Hoppy goes undercover into Mexico.
In the 1950s, lots of old B-westerns from the 30s and 40s were chopped to pieces in order to get these films to fit into an hour-long time slot. Fortunately, in the case of Hopalong Cassidy's films, he had the foresight to save the originals....and recently these beautiful original-length movies have been downloaded to YouTube. The abbreviated films ran about 54 minutes....but this copy I saw on YouTube runs 65.

When the story begins, officials on both sides of the US-Mexican border are lamenting how various gangs go back and forth over the border to avoid arrest. One of them gets an idea....to find a civilian who will go into Mexico to investigate. Naturally, it's Hopalong Cassidy and soon he and his current partners, California (Andy Clyde) and Breezy (Jay Kirby) , tag along to help. However, soon Hoppy starts getting reports that his trusted new friend, Mr. Gonzales was seen with the gang....and Gonzales starts getting reports that Hoppy was seen with the gang. What' really going on here?!

The Mexicans were prominently featured in this film and that isn't surprising. At the time, the US government was pushing the 'good neighbor policy' in order to strengthen US relations with Central and South America in order to prevent them from coming under Axis influence. And, as such, the Mexican folks in this one are portrayed more realistically and positively. Not a bad thing at all...and something I have seen in other Hopalong Cassidy films of the era.

So is it any good? Yes...but it's not especially great either. More an enjoyable time-passer than anything else. Dependable and enjoyable but nothing more.

Riders of the Deadline
(1943)

Well made but the plot is strictly lazy and too familiar
In the 1950s, many of Hopalong Cassidy's films were cut down to make them fit television time slots. This "Hopalong Cassidy Show" was a huge hit, and, fortunately, Cassidy thought to save the original prints. This means you can find full versions of most of his films on YouTube. This is not the case with some stars, such as Roy Rogers, where only the trimmed versions now exist.

While I love these Hopalong Cassidy films, I must admit that "Riders of the Deadline" is among the worst I have seen. This is because the plot isn't very believable to begin with AND it was used by every cowboy star! So this complete lack of originality is why this one only earns 4 stars for me.

Hoppy and his partners, California (Andy Clyde) and Jimmy (Jimmy Rogers), are all Texas Rangers. They are thrilled to see that Tim was also offered a job with the Rangers...though they don't know that Tim is in trouble. It seems he has a gambling problem and used a loan from the bank to try to win back what he'd lost. Not surprisingly, he only lost that and cannot pay off his loan. The 'nice' banker has a solution...now that Tim's a ranger, he can turn a blind eye when the banker's gang is smuggling stuff over the boarder. Tim agrees at first...but when he tries to stop the gang, he's knocked out...and the Rangers think he was in league with them. Tim is locked up...and the Sheriff let him out...only to shoot him!! And, Hoppy is somehow blamed for all this!!

What follows is one of the oldest plot ideas in westerns. Hoppy is drummed out of the Rangers and it looks like he's gone bad. Soon, the local gang recruits him...not knowing that it's all a big act and he's working under cover for the Rangers!! Who saw this coming? Well, practically everyone in the theater!!

The bottom line is that it was lazy filmmaking to have Hoppy pretend to go bad. Tim McCoy, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and just about every cowboy star of the day used this plot!! But the story is enjoyable....so it still manages a 4.

By the way, 1943 was the same year Robert Mitchum began working in films and he appeared in this film and at least one or two others...playing baddies each time.

Secret of the Wastelands
(1941)

Surprisingly sensitive in its depiction of Chinese-Americans.
In the 1950s, lots of old B-westerns from the 30s and 40s were chopped to pieces in order to get these films to fit into an hour-long time slot. Fortunately, in the case of Hopalong Cassidy's films, he had the foresight to save the originals....and recently these beautiful original-length movies have been downloaded to YouTube. The abbreviated films ran about 54 minutes....but this copy I saw runs 62. Now IMDB says the film is originally 66 minutes...but likely this is a mistake and the film was 62 originally. All I know for sure is that this is NOT the television version!

Often in the 1930s, Chinese and Chinese-American characters are played by white folks. While I am not the most politically correct guy, I hate this as so often these characters seem about as Chinese as a taco! Because of this, I found myself pleasantly surprised when I saw "Secrets of the Wastelands", as all the characters playing Chinese-Americans were Asians and looked Chinese. Additionally, the parts were written well...with none of the often seen stereotyping of these folks. I have noticed that OFTEN in these B-westerns, all different ethnic groups are portrayed very honestly...as Hoppy has made a few nice films with South American and Mexican-Americans as well.

The story is odd...quite unlike the usual Hopalong Cassidy film in some ways but also quite familiar. It's unusual because Hoppy has been chosen to lead an archaeological expedition!! Not unusual in that a bad boss-man is trying to cheat folks, in this case the Chinese-Americans, out of what is rightfully theirs. I could say more but really don't want to spoil it.

Overall, a very good film...well worth seeing and a bit better than you'd expect from a series western.

False Colors
(1943)

Taking a typical B-western trope and giving it a nice twist.
When the story begins, Hoppy and his two pals have come to town where they meet an old friend, Bud. But a short time later, some unknown gunman kills Bud...and this occurs shortly after Bud named Hoppy and his two sidekicks (California and Jimmy) as his beneficiaries. Now, the three own 2/3 interest in Bud's childhood home...a huge ranch in a different town. So, the three head there...only to witness a man SAYING he's Bud arriving in this town!! Apparently, someone has found a guy who looks much like Bud...and since the guy hasn't been in town for a decade, the plan was to have him substitute...and then sell the ranch to a local baddie (Douglass Dumbrille) so he can control all the water rights. Then, this bad man can effectively destroy all the other ranchers unless they pay him for the water...and it won't come cheaply!

Now you MIGHT think Hoppy would immediately expose this faux Bud, but he doesn't. This is because he wants to know who is behind this scheme...who orchestrated the murder of Bud and who trained the fake one to double for Bud. It's actually really obvious who is behind all this....especially since Dumbrille played evil baddies in about 95% of his movies!!

So is this film any good? Well, yes and know. It's handled very well and is interesting...though the notion of a bad guy trying to muscle out all the local ranchers is hardly an original one. Fortunately, HOW he would do this was pretty original...if a bit strange! It's also very fortunate that the Cassidy family estate apparently kept original copies of his westerns...because, like so many B-western stars, his movies were hacked to pieces to make them fit into TV time slots in the 1950s. But recently, restored originals were posted to YouTube...and you can see this one there at its original length and form.

As you watch this film, it's interesting to see Robert Mitchum as one of the baddie's hired guns. In fact, 1943 was the first year he appeared in films....and he made several Hopalong Cassidy's movies that year. Along with Mitchum is Glenn Strange...and Strange ALWAYS played bad guys in B-westerns! So much for being type cast! It wasn't until he began playing Frankenstein in the mid-1940s that he began doing something different! And, when he was a regular on TV's "Gunsmoke" he was able to finally consistently play a nice guy...not a monster nor hired gun slinger!

By the way, in the scene where Kit Moyer confronts the boss near the end of the film, note that as he and Hoppy enter the doorway that you can clearly see the shadow from the microphone!

Loaded Pistols
(1948)

Someone murdered Ed Norton!
"Looks like that brother of yours only uses his head to hang his hat on!"...Gene Autry

The story begins with some guys playing craps. Suddenly, the light goes out and someone shoots Ed Norton to death! Now it's not at all certain who did it, but the folks in town are complete idiots and assume Larry (who owned the gun and was in the game) did it. However, first, the lights were off. Second, Larry had put his gun into the pot because he ran out of money. So it's obvious someone did it (heck, they have a corpse!) but not at all certain who did it...and since Gene is the only non-stupid person in the film, he investigates. As for Larry, well, he rarely helps himself and again and again, Gene has to keep Larry from getting himself killed! As for Larry's sister, well, she's not much better!! Will Gene get to the bottom of Norton's death? And, will he prove who DID do it (hint...it was not Ralph nor Trixie nor Alice)?

This film is good BUT lacks two things I enjoy....a sidekick (no Smiley, Pat or Gabby on hand in this one) and the music wasn't particularly good compared to Autry's best movies. Fortunately, the supporting cast included Chill Wills, Jack Holt and Robert Shayne...so it's not all bad when it comes to casting. Unfortunately, having EVERYONE (but Gene) that dumb made the plot a bit difficult, though at least the Sheriff (Chill Wills) wasn't sure who committed the murder. This is a major weakness in the plot...as was Larry being so stupid and ungrateful all the time. Overall, one of the weaker Autry films...though he was just fine in it.



By the way, I noticed one reviewer was looking for the unedited version of this film. I watched the unedited version on Amazon Prime...and it ran almost 79 minutes instead of the 52-54 that most of the trimmed versions of Autry's films are....so you are losing a lot of story if you watch the versions cut down for TV viewing in the 1950s.

Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm
(1937)

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...
When the story begins, Gene and Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) are out chasing after some evil cattle rustlers. Now here's the crazy part...they find clothes from two of the gang and wear them...hoping to infiltrate the gang. But the almost end up getting hung when they are caught by a posse, as the gang ALSO killed two deputies. To find out how the pair get out of this mess and catch the leader of the baddies, you'll just have to see the film yourself!

"Rootin', Tootin' Rhythm" is a very good Gene Autry film, though not among his very best. Most of this is because of the music. While pleasant, the songs in this one aren't among the great singer's best....and while I usually HATE singing in movies, I love Autry as he really had a lovely voice and knew how to put over a tune. Apart from that, it's quite enjoyable and features some of the best stunt work you'll see in one of his movies.

College Humor
(1933)

Even more plotless and incomprehensible than I expected!
During the 1930s, films about college were very, very popular...even though most folks at the time could never dream of affording to go to college. And, most of these films are fluff...with little in the way of plot. This is DEFINITELY true with "College Humor"...a film that is so slight and plotless...even compared to films like "Horse Feathers"!

Instead of plot, this film seems to be made up of snippets. So, while I could try to explain the plot, I won't other than to say it's mostly about football. Additionally, one of the professors (Bing Crosby) spends a lot of time crooning and occasionally putting the moves on one of the co-eds. And, Burns & Allen are there...well...for no reason whatsoever.

Because there is almost no plot and a few of the characters complete jerks (Richard Arlen and Joe Sawyer's are both good examples), it's a film I am loathe to recommend. It's not awful...it just seems more slight, more silly and more of a time-passer than usual for this ever so slight genre.

By the way, like so many of these college films, most of the students are well into their 30s!

The Big Sombrero
(1949)

Gene...the Mexican-Americans' friend.
This is the second of two films Gene Autry made in Cinecolor for Columbia Pictures. I mention this because Cinecolor is a very primitive type of color film....and it was already mostly obsolete by the time Autry made these films. The studio used it simply because it was much cheaper than the true color processes. This is because unlike standard Technicolor, which had been in relatively widespread use since the late 1930s, Cinecolor was a two-color, not a three-color process. This means that to achieve a color effect, they used blends or orange-red and blue-green...and the result isn't true color at all but odd blends. So, yellows, deep reds, violet and a few other colors simply weren't in the spectrum for the two-color processes. In fact, Technicolor once used a two-color process....but replaced it with the three-color because the results were so much better. But, three-color Technicolor eeded expensive lighting and cost much, much more than black & white or Cinecolor. Fortunately for "The Big Sombrero", the Cinecolor is among the best looking I've seen....most films I've seen are much more faded and are either over or under-saturated. And, with "The Big Sombrero", the print seems very brownish....even the greens....and remember...this is a GOOD example of Cinecolor!

When the story begins, Gene is in bad financial straits and is hocking his guitar! Fortunately, he gets the job as foreman on the Big Sombrero Ranch. But he soon realizes there's a problem...Jim Garland, who is about to marry the woman who owns the ranch, is planning on getting rid of all the Mexican-Americans who live there, as he's a greedy jerk. Unfortunately, his intended, Estrellita, is pretty dim and doesn't realize that the man she loves is a weasel! What can Gene do?!

This film has a lot of pretty music...as you'd expect in a Gene Autry film. But the story is also unusual...not just because of the Cinecolor. Gene has no sidekick in this one and the film was in most ways very nice in the way it portrayed Hispanic people. Gene even sang a nice song in Spanish. My only reservation is the young guy who idolizes Gene...he seems to be overplaying his supposed Mexican-American heritage just a bit. He wasn't exactly subtle and tended to overdo his accent. Still, it's a pretty decent film...interesting and a bit more relaxed in style compared to Autry's earlier efforts...perhaps due to Autry getting on a bit in years. But I appreciated this style...and the film seemed like a nice departure from the old formula.

Outside the Law
(1930)

Some poor acting, an unconvincing change and poor sound make this one tough to love.
I found "Outside the Law" today on YouTube. I was excited as it was an early Edward G. Robinson film but less excited when I began watching it because the sound quality was very poor. I literally found myself turning the volume up and down repeatedly as the sound kept changing. If you can find another copy, you might want to watch that instead. This copy was watchable but annoying.

In at least three of Robinson's early films, he was inexplicably cast as an Asian guy! You wouldn't know it in this one until he introduces a Chinese woman...telling the girl that it's his mother. But he also plays more Asian guys in "The Hatchet Man" and "East is East"....and the results were, of course, ridiculous! I think some of this was because studios (in this case, Universal) had no idea what to do with this talented actor. And, not surprisingly, it will clearly offend folks today when they see this...but this sort of ridiculous racial casting was the norm in the 1930s and 40s. But the white actors USUALLY carried it off better. The major exception was "Dragon Seed" where, believe it or not, Katharine Hepburn played a Chinese woman!!!

Now although I've talked a lot about Robinson, he actually is billed second in the movie. First billed is Mary Nolan, a very self-destructive actress who lived a very wild life and died young. It's pretty sad and shocking stuff. And, here in "Outside the Law", she's a hard as nails femme fatale without any apparent redeeming value. Just watch her with the little boy....you'll see what I mean!!

The story involves Connie (Nolan) and Fingers planning a robbery. But when Cobra Collins (Robinson) sees Fingers (Owen Moore) doing a weird publicity stunt for the bank, he quickly realizes Fingers is planning on a bank job....and not an honest one! Much of the film concerns Connie trying to fool Cobra into thinking the robbery will take place later...and cutting him out of taking part of the loot. But this robbery is in Cobra's territory and he thinks he's owed at least a part of it....or else. As for Fingers, despite being a crook, he seems like a much more decent sort...and you care more about him than these other two sociopaths. So what happens next? See the film....and you WON'T suspect what actually occurs!

So is it any good? I wouldn't say yes, as the film features some ridiculous change in Connie...going from completely evil and nasty to a redemption towards the end. It just didn't make much sense and happened too quickly to be realistic. Plus, Nolan's acting and Owen Moore's aren't particularly good nor convincing. Robinson is pretty good, though I noticed his voice wasn't quite the same as it would be in his later films for Warner Brothers. In these just a year or two later, he slowed down and lowered the tone of his voice just a hair...but it was an improvement. Overall, a tough movie to love...and with Tod Browning directing I was shocked how ordinary the film actually was.

Family Affair
(1952)

Golly...ain't our phones swell!
"Family Affair" is a film by the Bell System that is trying to get folks to use their phones more and more effectively. None of this seems necessary today, this story of a family is meant to illustrate how swell phones are and what a great boon they are to mankind. It's all a bit silly and preachy....but it IS a chance to see a young Steve McQueen before he became famous. Otherwise, it's a film that is easy to skip. I'd say more but frankly, in this case it hardly seems worth it and I doubt if anyone (other than me!) would bother with this short industrial film in the first place.

If you DO want to see it, it's on Alpha Video's "Stars in Their Shorts"...a perfectly dreadful collection of craptastic shorts...none of which are worth seeing and "Family Affair" is by far the best of them!! Do yourself a favor...don't buy this one!

On the Right Side
(1949)

Bill is sick and won't get better on his own...
"On the Right Side" seems very dated and preachy today, though its message is a sound one and is the basis of groups like AA and Gamber's Anonymous.

Bill and Mary get married when the film begins and life seems good. But soon their marriage is destroyed by Bill's gambling. It's bad...but gets worse and worse despite his many promises to change. Eventually, in desperation, she visits a judge who is a family friend. She wants him to help her get a divorce, but he's against divorce and instead recommends Bill get his heart right with God.

The message is to have faith and to stop trying to fix an addiction on your own. This message is very ecumenical in nature and isn't as heavy-handed as it could have been. An odd curio from the early days of self-help groups.

The Christophers: Don't Let George Do It
(1955)

Well intended but dull and dated.
I had never heard of The Christophers and looked them up as I turned on this short film. This is because it says it's a presentation by The Christophers. Apparently, it's a Catholic ecumenical group stressing religious tolerance and back in the 1950s they apparently had a TV show.

The show begins with Danny Thomas addressing the audience. He plays a character named 'George' and loves that many Americans aren't civic-minded and he loves filling this void...saying it's what's allowed him to take control of countries, like Nazi Germany.

The scene now switches and Danny is back to playing himself, not George. He has a conversation about patriotism and the like with a Catholic priest (George Keller, the founder of The Christophers). After he leaves, Robert Young then joins the priest in a discussion about Americanism, patriotism and being swell. Then he's joined by Dennis Day (of "The Jack Benny Program" fame).

This is a dull as dust film that is on a DVD from Alpha Video. I say skip this one...it's dated and dull...and The Christophers present a very broad and ill-defined set of goals....mostly that a person should be nice, become politically involved, etc.. The bottom line is that it comes off as a lecture and has no finesse nor audience appeal.

The F.B.I.: The Flaw
(1968)
Episode 12, Season 4

Aside from a rough start, a pretty good episode.
This episode begins at a ski resort and one of the sloppiest murders occurs when Glen Parmenter (Barry Morse) kills an operative who has disappointed him. I say sloppy because it just didn't make a lot of sense. There were plenty of witnesses and the gun was amazingly quiet...much quieter than a gun with a silencer. It just took me out of the story it was handled so poorly. Fortunately, it did get a lot better after.

With the death of this man who worked at a chemical company making propellants for the US Army, the gang of commie spies need another inside man. Now with Erskine posing as a new scientist with a shady background, the spies think he'll be ideal to deliver to them the new formula. But things are a mess with the spies....as there is a fight over power and one of the spies seems to be going rogue. What's next? See the show.

I liked all the outdoor location shooting for this one. They said briefly it is supposed to be around Denver but it probably was in the Sierra Nevada mountain range or some other nearby location...IMDB doesn't list this. Regardless, the scenery is nice. The story, aside from a rocky start is also good...and quite exciting.

By the way, I did find it funny that in the cabin where the spies operated was a book on the bookshelf that I found pretty funny...John Stormer's book on the evils of commie infiltration of the United States, "None Dare Call It Treason"! An interesting book scattered among the books on the shelf.

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men
(1952)

Not quite as good as the 1938 Warner Brothers film...but still quite good.
Before you watch this or any movie about Robin Hood, there are a few things you should know. First, he is a fictional character. Sure, he was inspired by some real life folks (some of which lived far later than the fictional Robin) but essentially it's all a work of fiction. Second, the greatest fiction in these Robin Hood stories is the notion that King Richard the Lionhearted was a good king. He was, in fact, among the very worst. He had little interest in governing the country and was much more interested in fighting and killing. His expedition to the Crusades was simply filled with appalling savagery and violence...with little regard to the countless civilians he and his soldiers killed, raped and maimed. He was simply terrible as a king and as a person. So, when you keep hearing about his brother, John, being godawful....well, these brothers were not exactly the Hardy Boys! They were more like if Damian from "The Omen" had sons! And, finally, this is the first Robin Hood film I have seen with Queen Eleanor in it. Although she adores Richard in the film, the woman had about as much maternal instinct as a rabid wolverine! Clearly the film is mostly fiction.

The story begins with Richard and a bunch of other folks heading off for the Crusades...complete with pageantry and huzzahs. Soon after he departs, the acting king, John, appoints the Sheriff...who then spends his time looting the kingdom and approving of all sorts of nastiness against the people. And, following a nice performance at an archery contest, the evil Sheriff (Peter Finch) decides to kill Robin (Richard Todd) and his friend...and he succeeds in killing one and declares Robin to be an outlaw! And, after assembling a group of 'Merrie Men', they take to the forest to avoid capture. Assorted hi-jinx, intrigue, and action follows.

So is this any good? Well as a history lesson, no...but frankly most folks couldn't care less about this. So is it good entertainment? Yes. the film is quite different from the Warner Brothers "Robin Hood"...darker and less comical but still quite good...which surprised me a bit since the film was made by Disney. However, Richard Todd was a fine actor and he and the rest of the cast were quite good in the movie. Well worth seeing.

Emil and the Detectives
(1964)

Kids might like it...adults might find it a bit tedious.
During the 1960s and 70s, Disney released a lot of live action films. They were clearly aimed at kids, as if you watch them as an adult, many of them are simply awful. While I wouldn't call "Emil and the Detectives" awful, it is tough going for adults because Disney clearly was thinking only of kids when it inserted all sorts of goofy sound effects and made a film featuring a large cast of kids...some of which weren't very good actors.

I have no idea how closely this story follows the original story by Erich Kästner. I do know, however, that his story was very popular and they made at least six film versions of the "Emil and the Detectives".

The story begins with Emil about to get on the bus for Berlin. His mother does something a bit foolish...she pins a letter with money in it inside his jacket...and then says loud enough for a nearby thug to hear, that he has the money and should give it to his grandmother when he arrives. Naturally, a scum-bag overhears it and ends up stealing the money. But Emil is a very determined kid...and follows the man. Along the way, he also gets help from another boy who has a group of friends he calls his 'detectives' and they go about following the man and his compatriots. Why? Because in this weird world, the police don't listen to children when they report crimes!

So what's good about the film? Well, it actually was filmed mostly in Berlin and it's nice to see the city. It's also interesting to see that some of the town is STILL in ruins almost 20 years after the war. But it also seemed very odd that almost no one had a German accent!

Overall, a mixed bag that I'd rate a 6 or perhaps 7 for kids and a 4 for adults. If your kids want to watch it, it's harmless entertainment, albeit a bit dark in places. But if you are an adult, you might want to have a book or handheld video game handy so you want pay attention to this instead of the film as the kids watch this one.

What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine
(2018)

Worth watching...particularly if you are nuts about Trek.
I am a Trek geek...call me a Trekker or Trekkie, either are fine with me. And, because I am a big fan, I knew about this film some time ago, as the filmmakers were offering to let fans at the Star Trek convention (or was it the cruise?) to talk on camera about what they loved about the show. I had no interest...but I was eager to see the documentary because i loved this show. And, that gets to a major point about the film....it's perfect for fans like me, but if you aren't a fan, you probably shouldn't watch the film because you won't care or appreciate it very much.

The show fortunately did not have tons of fans in the film and instead had iput from most of the cast and filmmakers. I say most because as Trekkies would expect, Avery Brooks wasn't involved...and he usually keeps his life very private and seldom goes to Trek events. This is NOT criticism...it's his right. So because of this, it's left up to the rest of the cast to participate....including songs from the so-called 'Rat Pack' with lyrics written by Max Grodénchik. It's all very enjoyable and celebrates the show as well as questions what would an eighth season have been like had it been made. All in all, a loving tribute, well made and never dull.

The F.B.I.: The Butcher
(1968)
Episode 11, Season 4

Despite being about a Nazi and having an excellent cast, the writing isn't so hot in this one.
"The Butcher" isn't a terrible episode of "The F.B.I." but it is a very weak one...mostly due to some writing issues. It's a shame, as the show has a stellar cast and should have been so much better.

The show begins with a man confronting Paul Sieger (Charles Korvin) in a garage. It seems that Sieger was a Nazi and had committed war crimes....and the man with the gun was going to put a stop to him. But somehow the guy shoots Sieger from only about 8 feet away...and barely injures him!! Sieger shoots back...hitting the assailant. He also then murders the car attendant what witnessed this.

Now when you learn the facts, you wonder WHY did Sieger kill the attendant? After all, a war crimes court had acquitted Sieger and the only crime he'd committed was coming to the United States, as he'd been deported several years prior. Now I am NOT saying he was a saint....but killing the attendant seemed stupid to say the least and shooting the attacker would have been seen as justified...at least LEGALLY speaking.

Now Sieger is on the run and he turns to a neo-Nazi living Connecticut, Mark Dryden (Ralph Bellamy). Dryden is NOT pleased to see Sieger...mostly because Sieger and Dryden's daughter had been lovers...and Dryden didn't want his daughter to marry a Nazi...at least not this one. So, Dryden pretends to help Sieger...but arranges to have an assassin kill him...thus ending Sieger and Karen Dryden's love affair! But Karen unexpectedly goes with Sieger and eventually Dryden tells the FBI what he'd done in arranging for the killing! Does this make any sense? Not a lot as Dryden was supposed to be a neo-Nazi and his sentimentality made little sense...especially since he was hiding thousands of dollars worth of illegal weapons in his home and would certainly go to jail for the rest of his miserable life.

There's more...as well as one of the folks in the show getting shot in the chest from about 20 feet away...yet he somehow survives!!! But the shootings, Sieger and Dryden's actions...well, they really make little sense and it's sad since this program was one of the best on TV at the time. Sloppy and disappointing.

By the way, if you do watch, note the assassin chasing Sieger....he looks a LOT like Erskine and I wonder if perhaps they let his stunt double do this scene.

Conte de la grand-mère et rêve de l'enfant
(1908)

I had no idea Georges Méliès made a movie starring kids and for kids.
This Georges Méliès is very simple...but also very lovely to watch as well as a most unusual story in many ways. It begins with a grandmother reading a child a story. Then the child goes to sleep and almost immediately (too quickly actually) an angel appears and the pair go off to a toy land to have adventures.

There really isn't a lot in the way of plot, but it sure is lovely to see....a real treat. And, while Georges Méliès did make a lot of films where fanciful things happen, none are quite like this....mostly because he almost never used kids as actors. But here, it's a nice change of pace and is a clever but almost plotless film.

I Married a Woman
(1958)

George Gobel plays a guy who is about romantic as Attila the Hun!
"I Married a Woman" is a most unusual movie in 1956...in addition to having a pretty dumb title. After being made, it sat on the shelf for two years before ultimately being released. Usually this means the film is god-awful and the studio is afraid to release it. But in this case it happened because the studio, RKO, was in a financial crisis and suspended production on everything! And so, they sat until eventually some deal was made to have Universal Studios release the films.

In "I Married a Woman", George Gobel plays a very boring man, Mickey Briggs, who is married to a knock-out wife, Janice (Diana Dors). Despite this, he seems mostly indifferent to the woman and thinks mostly about work....even though most men would envy him for having such a pretty wife. For instance, in one part of the film, she wants to go see a romantic film...and Mickey acts as if he's being forced to eat glass when he goes with her! And, again and again, Janice laments that Mickey is so indifferent to her...and she wishes he was like he used to be when they were dating. It's so bad that Janice even tries to make him jealous...just to get SOME sort of reaction! Later, she thinks Mickey's indifference is because he's been cheating on her...mostly because she's been egged on by her awful mother! This is an interesting reversal...something audiences probably didn't expect! What's next? See the film....and see just how bad the Briggs marriage become.

So is this any good? Well, yes and no. I like the general idea of the film. But I also must say that after a while I felt a bit annoyed by the film, as the characters seemed like jerks. Mickey was a very inattentive husband. Phyllis was a very annoying wife. And Phyllis' wife needed a good kick in the pants! I don't normally feel this way when I watch a film....and I think the writers didn't quite hit the mark and they should have softened the characters a bit. As a result, the film felt more like a sitcom than a movie. However, I did enjoy John Wayne's cameos...particularly the one at the end of the picture!

The Unholy Wife
(1957)

She's niceness impaired.
"The Unholy Wife" must have seemed like a golden opportunity for Diana Dors, the British blonde bombshell. After all, she had just signed a three picture deal with RKO and would have the opportunity to show folks she really could act. Unfortunately, RKO soon ceased production...and only two of these films ended up getting made. That combined with her husband's outburst at a pool party AND the poor box office to this film and Dors opportunity slipped away. It is sad, as she was very good as the femme fatale in "The Unholy Wife"...and perhaps the public stayed away due to her hubby's behaviors, as she was quite good and the film very good.

The story is told by Phyllis (Dors). You can assume she is in jail telling someone about her 'perfect crime' because her peroxided hair isn't present in these scenes...her hair has gone to its original dark brown. I appreciated this, as DOrs had been billed for years because of her looks...and here she allowed herself to look less than gorgeous in these few flashback scenes.

Phyllis, we learn, is a very bad girl. Despite having a young son, she appears to have little in the way of maternal instincts and she likes catting around with a ne'er-do-well, San Sanders (Tom Tryon). But when a rich but not particularly pretty guy, Paul Hochen (Rod Steiger) falls for her, she hides her boyfriend....marries Paul...and continues with the affair. Eventually, she tires of this arrangement and decides to kill Paul and make it look like an accident...and then things get REALLY wild and unpredictable!

I liked the film...the public didn't. It's possible I am wrong...perhaps some disliked how Phyllis came clean at the end and did the right thing. But that didn't bother me in the least....she had nothing to lose by finally telling the truth. I also liked how well she adopted an American accent for this movie. See the film and see what I mean.

By the way, it is interesting that Dors completely upstaged Steiger...something that almost NEVER happened, as Steiger was known to be a much larger than life personality in most of his films.

By the way, although I don't see mention of this, the story in many ways seems like a reworking of the story "Thérèse Raquin" by the French writer, Émile Zola.

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